The agonizing wait has finally come to an end with the ropeway services resuming in Darjeeling after nine months. On Saturday, staffers of the Conveyor and Ropeway Services Pvt Ltd (CRSPL), which operates the ropeway, conducted a maintenance and trial run to see if things were in order. Full-fledged commercial services will start from Sunday after Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) chairman Binoy Tamang officially inaugurates it.
“It has been found that everything is in perfect order. Few tourists were even lucky enough to take the ride on Saturday. It was good to see smiles back on the faces,” said Mingma Lama, commercial manager of CRSPL. Though run by CRSPL, the ropeway falls under the West Bengal Forest Development Corporation Ltd (WBFDCL).
It was shut down after the previous lease, which was for 20 years, expired on March 31last year. “There were some issues in getting an NOC and the renewal of the lease-holding. However, everything has been sorted now and we have been given a lease for five years,” Lama said.
The WBFDCL provides the lease, but the mandatory No-Objection Certificate is given by the PWD. This time, the NOC has been given for six months.
The few lucky tourists — around 60 —who took the ride on Saturday seemed elated to become the first to enjoy the opportunity in several months. “We have been coming here for the past three days, hoping the services would resume. Today, we got a surprise call from a hotel staffer, who informed us that the ropeway had started. We immediately reached the spot and took the ride. It was a wonderful experience,” said Anuradha Pradhan from Siliguri.
Soumya Pandey from Dhanbad said her trip to Darjeeling couldn’t have been better even though the ride was scary at times because of the height. “The ride stopped at some points, which was quite scary. But overall, it was exciting and thrilling,” she said.
CRSPL has kept the entry fee at Rs 200 for adults while children between three and seven years are being charged Rs 100. During the off season, around 250-300 passengers take the ride while the number shoots up to 500-600 in the peak period.
Source: Times of India